COACHES Del Rio to take over Jaguars
The defensive wizard of the Ravens and Panthers will replace Tom Coughlin.
JACKSONVILLE -- Brimming with enthusiasm, Jack Del Rio stepped into the meeting room with Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver.
Four hours later, the 39-year-old former NFL linebacker had talked his way into a head coaching job.
"When you look a guy in the eye and the chemistry's there, you know you've got your guy," Weaver said Thursday, after hiring the Panthers defensive coordinator, widely considered one of the brightest young minds in the game.
Although Del Rio's coaching resume could fit on a business card, it's an impressive one.
In 2000, he was linebackers coach for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, where Ray Lewis led one of the most dominating defenses in league history. This season, Del Rio led the Panthers from dead last in the league in defense to second.
"He's what you call a shooting star in this business," Baltimore coach Brian Billick said.
Del Rio was a surprise candidate, but one Weaver couldn't resist after the interview with him earlier this week, at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Weaver wanted someone who could win back the locker room, reconnect with the community and help boost ticket sales. The Jaguars averaged 56,277 fans this season, down more than 11,000 from 1999, when the team made the AFC title game.
So excited is Weaver about showing off his new coach, he decided to make Del Rio's introductory news conference a public event. He'll hold it at the stadium in Jacksonville at 6 p.m. today, and is inviting fans to attend.
Mariucci hopes to coach again
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- A day later, Steve Mariucci still didn't really know why he was packing boxes and taking down photographs in his office at the 49ers' training complex.
Mariucci didn't have any clear ideas about his future. He expects to coach again, though it probably won't be as an NFL head coach next season. He also hasn't yet decided to get into broadcasting, as his agent suggested.
"I don't have a clue right now of what I'm going to do or what I want to do," Mariucci said. "I haven't had any time to think about it. I wasn't planning on this. I wasn't preparing for this. ... Will I coach again? I suppose so."
But his answers to the questions still surrounding his firing didn't exactly clear up the convoluted circumstances. In fact, most of what Mariucci said was nearly the opposite of the party line from owner John York and the team brass.
No, Mariucci said, he didn't demand powers above and beyond his coaching duties. Yes, he respected the 49ers' organizational flow chart, as York described it. No, he didn't have any interest in the Jaguars' vacancy or any other job.
None of his answers prevented his dismissal -- not when he spoke with an unaccountably irate York on the phone Monday night, and not when York fired him on Wednesday morning, three days after the 49ers finished their fourth winning campaign during his six seasons in charge.